Celebrity Solstice independent cruise ship review
Independent cruise ship reviews for the professional at Leisure
The solstice is the newest in the Celebrity fleet, a
sparkling new ship that offers a host of amenities that are unique and special.
After the acquisition of Celebrity cruise lines of
Royal Caribbean, there has been concern that Celebrities niche as a step-above
Holland America Princess, (while staying below the luxury lines like Crystal
Cruises and Cunard) may be changing, especially in light of the spectacular
deals with some cabins offered at less than $70 per day.
Celebrity Solstice is a spar
king new ship that is kept immaculately clean.
They are also offering come new amenities, found on no other ships:
Automated wine cellar
One major revenue generation for cruise ships is alcohol,
and Celebrity has introduced an automated wine dispenser that allows anyone with
a ship card, regardless of age, to get loaded on cheap wines.
It’s only a matter of time until they get sued after
a kid uses a pinched card and gets hurt.
Fresh Grass on Deck
The Celerity Solstice latest gimmick is the “lawn club” a
quarter acre of real grass on the top deck.
You can play Bocce ball, whatever that is.
Don't forget your "Lawn Club merchandise!
The putting green
They advertise it as a putting area, and they even
have a “pro shop” but the grass is nothing like a real golf green.
However, putting is still challenging, since you
must almost chip the ball from the thick grass, all while allowing for the
natural motion of the ship.
It’s not like real putting, but it’s fun in its own
|I would use a wedge on this thick grass
If you really smack the ball, it is kinda, sorta is like a putting
One popular new attraction is offered by the Corning Glass
Museum, where they have three professional glass blowers create art glass vases
and bowls in front of an audience.
It’s fun to watch them blow the glass, and some
pieces are offered as “art” for sale, in the realm of $350 up to $1,500.
British American Auctions:
A new auction in town!
With the cruise lines reeling from
massive fraud, it's no surprise to see new players enter this market.
British American is a new cruise ship art auction that claims to only be
operating on the Solstice and on Azamara Cruises.
I read their terms and
conditions and spoke with their auctioneer, and here is what I learned about
British American Auctions.
Gay Friendly staff
While naval service has attracted homosexuals for
centuries, the Solstice has more effeminate staff than any cruise ship I’ve been
on, with dozens of openly gay men, some in positions that require daily
interaction with the passengers.
Solstice had quite a few gay male passengers aboard as passengers, and we dined
with some gays who were very pleased to see that the cruise director staff was
so open about their sexual orientation., and they saw this as a advancement in
the general acceptance of gayness in the workplace.
Conversely, we also heard complaints about the effeminate
gay men who work aboard the Solstice.
These complaints were from old people and intolerant
conservatives (probably far right Christians), who complained loudly about the
“light in the loafers” swishy behavior of the staff.
I don’t agree with this, but I can understand how
conservative passengers might be uncomfortable interactive with flamboyantly
It’s a tradeoff.
Gay couples find the cruise ship staff delightful
and refreshing, but religious people, conservatives, homophobes, and those who
are uncomfortable with effeminate gay mannerisms might do well to avoid the
on the Celebrity Solstice
You get what you pay for, and the higher class passengers
(Aqua and Concierge class) eat in the “Blu” dining room, while steerage
passengers dine in the Grand Epernay dining area.
We found the food to be quite good in the Epernay
dining area, but the wait staff is routinely overwhelmed, and we got tired of
sitting for 90 minutes to eat a meal that could have been served in less than an
Dealing with food borne illness
It’s rare to get food borne illness aboard a cruise ship,
but the Celebrity Solstice has some of the worst food I’ve ever encountered,
worse than an Army mess hall. (But in all fairness, at less than $70 per day for
the food and balcony room, the food is cheaper than eating at Waffle house)
Janet because ill from eating contaminated food aboard the
Celebrity Solstice, and after the second bad food attack, we needed to take
action and start carefully screening our food for bacterial contamination.
We were at sea for six days without any port stops,
so we were in a real jam.
If you get sick from food aboard the Celebrity
Solstice and you cannot buy food at port stops, you must be very careful:
If you get nausea or diarrhea or any symptoms that might be
confused with a viral illness, be careful not to get quarantined.
With all of the concern about viruses, the medical
staff are quick to quarantine anyone with flu-like symptoms to their cabin for
the duration of the cruise (Note that many cruise ships doctors are grossly
unqualified to practice medicine in America <add link>).
If you are quarantined, then you are really screwed,
since we suspected that it was bacteria laden room service food was what made
Cooking in your stateroom
To stay healthy for a long voyage, we took to preparing
cook cold food in our stateroom.
We were not able to bring foodstuffs aboard the ship
during port stops, and we wished that we had the foresight to load up on canned
foods (pork and beans, spaghettios, and potato chips) for safe in-room dining.
DO NOT attempt to cook hot food in your stateroom.
Cans of Sterno can easily tip, causing a serious
fire aboard ship.
The trick is to prepare safe cold food, using
Janet is cleaver, and she discovered that you can make your own egg salad in
your cabin, using hard boiled eggs, packets of mayonnaise and bread:
your own egg salad from hard boiled eggs and mayo packets
With a few delightful exceptions, the overall quality of
the food aboard the Celebrity Solstice ranged from wonderful to absolutely horrid.
And the bad food was very bad, more than
unappetizing; it’s just plain gross, and I’ve eaten better meals in Army mess
We were served food that our dog would not eat, like this
nasty club sandwich, served with cold, soggy french fries:
club sandwich from the Celebrity Solstice room service
to be fair, the food is an amazing value for the money, and the vast majority of
passengers were not sickened by the food.
Almost every day I had to remove something gross from my
mouth, like a giant hunk of gristle in some chopped barbeque meat, or the woody
core of a pineapple.
After eating the spectacular New York pizza on the
Crown Princess cruise ship, the pizza on the Solstice was just nasty.
Here is an actual photo of the pizza that the
Celebrity Solstice will serve you:
Celebrity Solstice pizza tastes even worse than it looks
Fortunately, not all of the food is inedible, they have
pockets of glory such as the desert crepes in the extra-cost Bistro on Five, but
the food quality is not uniform, it varies from outstanding to disgusting.
The main dining room has decent food, but you can
wait over an hour, watching the poor waiters scramble trying to keep up with
their overloaded tables.
The food refrigeration also appeared to be spotty, and you
could tell with the ice cream, which was obviously melted and then re-frozen.
Perhaps it’s the refrigeration that was the cause of
the bacterial problems that Janet experienced, who knows?
Cream, obviously melted and then re-frozen
The Solstice offers three extra-cost dining options,
(Asian, French, and Italian).
When compared to some of the extra-cost offerings
such as the SS United States Celebrity Infinity, these restaurants pale, but the
extra service alone makes them worth the extra $20-$25 charge.
If you want prompt service and better food, budget
an extra $30 a day, and eat in the Tuscan grill and Silk Harvest.
far as buffets go, this one is quite nice, on par with the mega buffets of Las
Vegas, sans the filet Mignon and lobster tails. They always offer a “carving
table” with fresh ham, turkey or pork loin, and a wide variety of foods.
Everyone love English food, and the Oceanview Cafe offers a full English breakfast on the
buffet, replete with fried toast, black Pudding (a scab-like blood sausage),
delightful sautéed mushrooms, fried tomatoes, beans and British bacon (a salty
They even offer Chinese dumplings, real Chinese congee and
an amazing variety of international offerings.
Wonderful black pud and fried toast complete a real British breakfast
After eating real Tuscan food, we found the Tuscan Grill to
be to anglicized, a watered-down version of the real thing.
Little details were sub-par (the prosciutto was too
fatty), the dishes unauthentic.
For example, they push the rib-eye steak, a wafer
thin steak served with macaroni and cheese.
The steak was not char-broiled, lacked flavor and it
was nothing even remotely Tuscan.
Bistro on Five
One amazing treat on the Celebrity Solstice is the creperie
on Bistro at Five, which serves a full meal for a five dollar cover charge.
They serve soup, sandwiches and stiffed crepes,
nothing to write home about, but the real spectacular treat was the French
desert crepes, a masterpiece with dried orange and Grand Marnier.
For a great late night desert, try the creperie, as
they are open until one AM.
Murano is the place to go if you want glitzy presentations
of a two hour meal, and the staff at Murano is all about spectacular
presentation, hovering and doing the final food preparation at the table.
Murano is all glamour and glitz, Murano is perfect
for playing dress-up and spending the evening dining in an elegant setting with
It dining experience reminded me of the SS Unites
States on the Celebrity Infinity <add link>
Murano also offers a $95 menu with a different wine with
The fare is faux french (deliberately anglicized for
American tastes), but they offer filet mignon, fresh lobster, rack of lamb and
Dover sole, prepared at your table.
They also offer soufflés for desert, but be prepared
for spend at least two hours.
Murano is not the place to pop-in for a quick snack.
The Silk Harvest is a real gem, a real delight for superb
Asian cuisine, and we ate their several times.
This is an “Asian Fusion” restaurant, offering
cuisine from Vietnam, China and Japan.
Their term “fusion” is a misnomer, because the food
is not a true fusion, it simply means that they offer dishes from various
Book early! – Silk Harvest is head-and-shoulders
above the Tuscan and Murano, and it’s a small restaurant and it books up
The service is amazing, and the wait staff descends on you
like flies on warm poo, yet somehow their service is not smothering (like the
Russian Tea Room).
While most dishes are quite authentic, at par with
any Chinatown restaurant, it was refreshing to see that they did not water-down
the bold dishes for the gringo’s.
Their spicy Vietnam Green Curry was amazing, hot
enough to make me sweat, all bold flavors and quite authentic.
If you want to eat quickly and not linger for hours,
just say so, and they will start bringing out the food pronto.
Annoyances on the Celebrity Infinity
There were several minor issues that we found to be bothersome:
· Inattentive waiters
– It was not uncommon for the wait staff to “forget” our drink orders, and on
one occasion we were swerved a sandwich without the bread.
(However, they did a great job, given the huge number of people that they
were forced to serve at once) At
the Bistro on Five, I got an orange crepe and they did not serve it with the
oranges! When I questioned them,
they said that they were “out”, but they had no problem serving it without the
oranges. In fairness, they sent a
tray of chocolate-covered strawberries to our cabin as an apology.
· Inappropriate familiarity
– It does not matter how you have distinguished yourself as a professional, the
servants on the Solstice has been trained to annoy you by comment on what you
are eating in the dining room, asking where you are from, and other
inappropriate acts of unwarranted familiarity.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice,
sooner or later, some third world servant on the Solstice will assume that they
are entitled to address you by your first name.
In all fairness, I’m an alpha male who does not tolerate uppity
underlings, but some people love being chatted-up by the help.
My kids and my 80 year-old mother in-law love the attention when the wait
staff get familiar with them. This
is a management issue, and the ship ID cards should have some unobtrusive marker
to designate people who may not appreciate being called by their first name.
· Foreign objects in the food
– Have you ever had the experience
where you find something really gross in your mouth and you are forced to
discretely spit it out into your napkin?
Well, it happened to me three times aboard the Solstice.
Once, I caught a giant hunk of gristle when eating the barbeque meat in a
sandwich (in which they forget the bread!).
It was so gross that I had to excuse myself and leave the dining area to
flush it into the men’s room toilet.
On another occasion I caught the woody core of a pineapple and another
time I was served an inedible twig from the bottom of an asparagus stalk.
This is not an issue with Celebrity as a whole, but they need to fire
their food service manager.
In sum, Celebrity is an amazing value at under $70 per day
for a balcony stateroom, and the staff was genuinely obsessed with providing
I believe that our food problems we experienced were transient, and even with the food problems I was satisfied and would cruise the